What was once thought to be a lost cause may no longer be the case. Cleveland Indians ace hurler Justin Masterson has reportedly used the last several days to let the world—and the team—know that he is not looking for Homer Bailey-type money. In fact, Masterson is willing to sign a shorter, less-lucrative contract to stay with the Indians, as long as it at least “makes sense.”
Though Masterson signed an 11th-hour one-year contract that successfully avoided arbitration, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported last Tuesday that the 6-foot-6-inch right-hander spent a good portion of the weekend discussing a potential long-term solution. The Cincinnati Reds recently signed Bailey to a six-year, $105 million deal that was all but sure to have ushered Masterson to a new team come 2015. Per Heyman, however, Masterson told the Tribe that he is willing to accept a shorter contract, said to be in the three-to-four-year range, firmly putting the onus back on the front office to attempt to agree to terms.
“We’re trying to be sensitive to something that makes sense. We’ve been sensitive, flexible and willing to work with them. But we can’t be … a sellout,” Masterson’s agent Randy Rowley said.
For comparison purposes, a three-year, $40 million deal would be roughly equivalent to what Carlos Beltran signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. Curtis Granderson signed a four-year, $60 million deal with the New York Yankees. To compare this to other pitchers, however, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ricky Nolasco and Matt Garza both signed four-year, $50 million deals with their respective teams; the Angels signed Jason Vargas (31 years old, 9-8 with a 4.02 ERA in 2013) to a four-year, $32 million deal.
Masterson, who turns 29 later this month, recently avoided arbitration with the Indians by agreeing to a $9.7625 million contract. He’s coming off a 3.45 ERA and 195/76 K/BB ratio over 193 innings last year.
Per Heyman, Rowley reportedly suggested a figure in talks Saturday with the Indians, and there is said to be a decent feeling among Indians people that they may be able to work something out with the right-hander, if not immediately then perhaps by the end of spring. With Masterson and his agent sharing their side of the story, the ball appears to be firmly back in the court of those in the offices of Carnegie and Ontario.